Book Review: Light, Medicine of the Future

Light, Medicine of the Future: How We Can Use It to Heal Ourselves Now by Jacob Liberman, O.D., Ph.D.
Bear & Company/Inner Traditions Press, Rochester, Vermont 1990

Jacob Liberman, is a doctor of optometry as well as the holder of a Ph.D. In vision science and extensive experience in optometric practice, research and teaching along with postgraduate specialty training in the discipline of Syntonic Optometry. I emphasize his professional and academic credentials because he has authored a work which has proven controversial and continues to elicit both enthusiastic praise as well as criticism 22 years after it's publication.

That light and color are imbued with therapeutic properties when correctly used will come as no surprise to practitioners of Ayurveda and other systems of natural therapeutics. Our Ayurvedic sages and rishis knew and taught countless centuries ago of the curative effects of color and of radiant light, whether of the open fire or of sunlight. Light has been used for healing since the time of ancient Egypt. Western healers began recognizing the benefits of light therapy in the late 1700′s and the 19th and 20th centuries have seen the discovery that sunlight is a necessary precondition to the body's formation of certain essential nutrients in such a fashion as to parallel the plant kingdom's utilization of photosynthesis.

Dr. Liberman postulates that life on Earth evolved - with a very few exceptions - in such a way that sunlight is an irreplaceable component in it's nourishment; writes the author, "… light is the basic component from which all life originates, develops, heals, and evolves. Everything that humans do is affected in some way by light."

Although many believe that the ultraviolet (UV) light emitted by the sun is harmful, Dr. Liberman maintains that humans require exposure to at least some amount of UV light in order to function optimally. Citing data from a good number of studies which indicate that, due to the many ways in which we block sunlight from our lives (wearing sunglasses, "protective clothing" and headgear, sun blocking creams, etc.) designed to block out UV rays, the author asserts that "it is possible that we are unknowingly contributing to the increased incidence of blindness and eye disease in this country." Dr. Liberman holds that most people need to be outside in natural light, without sunglasses or sun block, for a minimum of one hour a day and warns that warm-white and cool-white fluorescents should be avoided. People who cannot get outside regularly need to equip their work areas and living spaces with full-spectrum light fixtures according to the author.

Syntonics is the name given to light therapy which involves the use of specific colored beams of light for the purpose of treating specific ailments. Dr. Liberman discusses its benefits in treating vision problems (the province of Syntonic Optometry), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), cancer, depression, bipolar disorder and learning disabilities, among others and writes that "as we continue to discover and understand the role that light plays in our lives, its use as both a therapeutic and preventive tool will become more evident." For those involved in healing professionally or interested in learning to use color and light therapy, extensive appendices provide sources of training and supplies as well as a listing of light therapy practitioners.

I believe this superbly written and organized book is a must read for anyone who is involved or interested in holistic healing, especially with light and color. Ayurvedic practitioners and students with an interest in what are called the "subtle therapies" will find it a worthwhile experience to learn of the copious contemporary scientific research data confirming the usefulness and therapeutic validity of some of our tradition's most ancient healing practices.

Review provided by William Courson, BVSA, D. Ayur., an Ayurvedic Practitioner, faculty member and the College Dean of Institutional Development at Sai Ayurvedic College & Ayurvedic Wellness Center.

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